you are here [x]: Scarlet Star Studios > the Scarlet Letters > product review: mini cut-off saws
<< before casting a resin head
after >> snow angel

January 16, 2007

product review: mini cut-off saws

by sven at 8:00 am

For making armatures, a mini cut-off saw is just about indispensable. It cuts through small brass or steel rod (or bars) quickly and cleanly. It's much, much faster than using a hacksaw. And the cuts are so clean, you don't even need to sand the rods' ends.

I've seen the following two models in use at two different animation studios, and have now had a chance to try out both.

miter / cut-off machine from Micro-Mark

The Micro-Mark model costs $139.95, and can only be purchased online. The Harbor Freight model costs $23.99 -- and if there's a Harbor Freight store near you, you just can walk in and buy it in person.

I'm certain that I need one of these for my metalworking. Given cost and convenience difference between the two, I decided that I could risk buying the Harbor Freight model. If it didn't work out, it's not too big of a loss -- and if it did work out, the savings would be significant.

mini cut-off saw from Harbor Freight

The Micro-Mark costs almost six times more than the Harbor Freight -- YOUCH! -- but it is also hands-down the better machine. I'll be ordering one soon.

What's the big difference? With the Harbor Freight cut-off saw, you can only get radial saws with teeth. When I was testing it, the the saw repeatedly got stuck on what it was cutting. Binding up is unacceptable (and rather frightening) behavior.

The Micro-Mark, by contrast, uses abrasive wheels. Instead of using teeth to make its cut, an abrasive wheel grinds material away. So there's basically no way for it to get stuck.

The Harbor Freight model -- while being a hideous color -- has a slightly better form factor. It has a convenient handle. And the safety latch is released with the press of a button, rather than that peculiar little lever.

...If only Harbor Freight made abrasive wheels for their tool, it'd easily be the better machine.

posted by sven | January 16, 2007 8:00 AM | categories: stopmo